A team of ICE Northern Ireland civil engineers have built a bridge over the Giwsi River in Rwanda as part of the Institution's 200th anniversary.
The 10 civil engineers worked with Bridges to Prosperity, a charity committed to ending poverty caused by rural isolation, to build a 45-metre suspension bridge to connect communities that were cut off from each other for much of the year due to bad weather conditions.
People living in Uwacyeza and Mugnaza couldn't cross the river for 120 days during the year. When the river flooded, local farmers couldn’t travel to the market to sell their goods, students couldn’t attend school, and the health clinic was inaccessible.
The team of civil engineers spent two weeks in Rwanda in May 2018 and worked with the local community to teach them the skills that went into building the life-saving infrastructure to serve a community of up to 6,000 people.
“This project shows the huge transformational positive impact that civil engineers can have on local communities by creating infrastructure that enables them to travel safely," said Richard Kirk, ICE Regional Director.
Two members of the team, Ciara Doherty of H&J Martin Construction and Rab Laverty of GRAHAM, who travelled to Rwanda are delivering a talk at the Ulster Museum on 26 November to present their challenges and learnings as civil engineers working on the project.
Travelling to Rwanda and using my skill set as an Engineer to help the local community construct a vital piece of infrastructure was extremely gratifying and I feel a great sense of pride. More importantly, I developed an emotional connection with the Rwandian people, they enriched my experience with their work ethic, skilfulness, hospitality and positivity. It was the most humbling experience I have been afforded throughout my career.Ciara Doherty, H&J Martin Construction